Yesterday, the Bankruptcy Panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued yet another decision related to standing and rights to appeal bankruptcy court orders. In Bray v. U.S. Bank National Association, (In re Bray), the Ninth Circuit BAP considered a chapter 7 individual debtor’s appeal from an order reopening his involuntary chapter 7 bankruptcy case. See Bray, B.A.P. No. CC-17-1373-SKuF (9th Cir. BAP Aug. 7 2018).
In determining whether the debtor here had appellate standing, the Court explained that “reopening a closed case is a ‘ministerial act’ that primarily enables the clerk to manage the case as an active matter.” Id. at 10 (citation omitted). The Court further elaborated that a bankruptcy court order reopening a case “lacks legal significance and determines nothing with respect to the merits of the case.” Id. (citation omitted).
The Court considered the person aggrieved standard, which provides that “‘those persons who are directly and adversely affected pecuniarily by an order of the bankruptcy court’ have standing to appeal.” Id. at (citation omitted). In order to meet this standard, the debtor would have to show that the order on appeal “diminished his property, increased his burdens or otherwise detrimentally affected his rights.” Id. at 11.
The Court found that the order reopening the case did not impact Bray in any of these ways, and thus he lacked standing to appeal the bankruptcy court’s order reopening the case. Id. at 11 (dismissing appeal).